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How Broke Nation FM Preyed On and Exploited, Young Fame Thirsty Campus Students to Cut Costs

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Some of the Vocal Nation participants

Some of the Vocal Nation participants

On 30th June, in a memo the Nation Media Group announced a bulky lay off the scheme of its staff. Hundreds of employees were caught off guard with the directive that has seen Nation FM, Q FM and TV both shut. The TV stations will be incorporated into one channel. According to the management, the decision to layoff its employees is to harmonize and strengthen its operations.

Sources privy to the decision divulges to Kenya Insights that the shut outlets have been running at a loss and siphoning the group’s revenue. The situation got so bad that most of the times Nation FM, QTV and Radio would on numerous occasions run dry adverts. Free adverts just to give the impressions that the situation was normal wand they were getting revenue.

The problem extends to NTV as well. “Print unit has been the holding factor,” a senior source at Nation Media Group tells Kenya Insights. Daily Nation remains the most profitable venture in the media group as its electronic media department numbers in losses.

Things couldn’t hold up anymore, and NMG was running at a loss, a crisis meeting that would see his Highness Aga Khan order for immediate deposition of additional employees and shut down of three channels was reached. Aga Khan, who owns preponderance stakes in the media group, was furious over under performance in the City Center’s media house.

Ciru Muriuki, Sanaipei Tande, Antoneosoul who were both Sacked by Nation FM

Ciru Muriuki, Sanaipei Tande, Antoneosoul who were both Sacked by Nation FM

Nation FM’s downfall started as far as last year when they laid off approximately 50 employees at a go. Celebrity presenters who had shot up the station’s ratings as Singer Anto Neosol, Sanaipei Tande, comedian Obinna, Ciku Muiruri among others were kicked out in what one of them describes as “being chased out like dogs.” The dismissal wasn’t like any other, Nation FM was insolvent and couldn’t manage to pay the high demanding celebrities.

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The management with Munene Nyagah as the head of radio coined a scheme to cut down cost and keep the wheels running.
The project, which became popularly known as “Vocal nation,” was packaged as a mentorship course. They drew two students each from campuses with the opportunity to present on the station.

The script sold to participants was that they would compete, and the best would be given employment opportunity at any of NMG’s outlets. Unknown to them, everything would turn out to be a bluff.

The senior source speaking on condition of anonymity to Kenya insights opens up more, “The plan was to target fame hungry guys from these campuses, and DJs were also brought in. Maximize production and minimize expenditure.” The station was breaking into a new audience of young people, so they needed relevant presenters.

Those who were recruited into the Vocal Nation program received zero remunerations. However, they were contented, being fame hungry, the mileage of being on the radio was good enough. This was to the advantage of the management. “We had a variety of content generation, and our online presence went up and above all minimized spending” one of the managers was overheard by a source, during drunk stupors at the Nation Lounge, located only meters away from the central premise.

Being tactful, the management didn’t announce specific timeline that the program would run, and this was meant to drowse on any queries and eyebrows that would become in due course.

As fate would prescribe, the lie suffered sudden death with the indefinite cessation of the station together with its sister station QFM and TV who employed similar tactics. As at the time of closure, there wasn’t a clear winner, neither did any of the Vocal Nation participants get even close to an internship opportunity at the media house. Contrary to other employees, Vocal Nation’s participants will walk out the same way they walked in, with empty pockets.

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Kenya West is a trained investigative independent journalist and a socio-political commentator on matters Kenya and Africa. Do you have a story, Scandal you want me to write on? Send me tips to [in.kenyawest@protonmail.com]

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